Home Dutch News Ancient skeletons were siege soldiers

Ancient skeletons were siege soldiers

Published on May 03, 2005

3 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — Nine skeletons found on 4 May last year in Maastricht are of Dutch origin and were probably members of the Staatse leger (State army), Maastricht City Council has revealed.

Research by police and the municipal’s archaeological service has indicated that the soldiers were killed and buried during a siege of Maastricht, either in 1592 (with Prince Maurits) or in 1594 or 1632 (with Prince Frederik Hendrik).

The skeletons are currently being stored at the anatomy department of the Leiden University, but later this month they will be transferred to the archaeological department in Maastricht.

The small cemetery was probably dug at the end of the 16th century. The skeletons are in separate burial pits next to each other with an aspect to the south-east. It is not a mass grave and none of the graves contain clothing or footwear. 

There were no noticeable bone breaks or injures indicating a violent death, but some of the skeletons showed symptoms of spina bifida, osteoporosis, arthritis, spinal complaints, infections and fractures due to strain.

Researchers said eight of the skeletons were male, but the sex of the 9th could not be determined. Age varies from 21 to 52 and the skeletons had reasonably good teeth, with one exception which had a very worn set.

One of the graves contained two coins, but none of the other soldiers were buried with coins. The coins are Dutch farthings dating from 1575 and 1578.

No traces of violence could be found on the skeletons and no military objects were buried with them, meaning that researchers cannot make any further pronouncements over the battlefield.
The skeletons were found by accident during excavation work in the front garden of a home in the Maastricht district of Biesland last year.

It was initially suspected that the skeletons were from a family burial site or the victims of crime. Thoughts then turned to musketeers killed during a 17th century battle between D’Artagnan French troops and defenders of Maastricht.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news